Most savvy shoppers are aware that labeling systems are in place to help you figure out the organic foods from the conventional and the GMO from the non-GMO.
But, did you know that an Organic label alone does not guarantee that the food product is 100% non-GMO? Each labeling system has its benefits and weaknesses. Let us help you to make the best, most-informed decisions when shopping for non-GMO foods:
Inspect the PLU Code Closely
For fresh produce, look at the PLU Code (short for “Price Look Up”) which indicates organic or genetically modified. An 8 means “Genetically modified” and a 9 is for “Organic”. While it is not required in the US to label GMO produce, in the USA and Canada, food manufacturers cannot declare their products to be 100% organic if GMOs are used. If you want organic produce, look for a 9 at the start of a 5 digit PLU code.
Know What the USDA Organic Label Means
The USDA Organic Seal indicates to consumers that a minimum of 95% of the product’s content is organic. The remaining non-organic ingredients must be approved and listed on the USDA’s National List. GMOs are NOT included on the USDA’s list, so the majority of USDA Organic products are typically free of GMOs. However, there are loopholes in the regulations. For example, non-organic cornstarch and a variety of soy lecithin are allowed to be used in products that carry the Organic Seal. In this case, it’s important to read the product label and be familiar with the organic foods you are buying.
Know What the 100% Organic Label Means
Labels that state 100% Organic are required to contain 100 percent organic ingredients. The label must include the name of the certifying agent so the purchaser knows the produce is completely organic. Despite strict certification regulations, organic certification (both 100% Organic and USDA Organic) is about the manner in which the food is grown – not the food that results from it. Organic foods are not tested as part of the USDA Organic process, so the possibility is real that GMO contamination can occur even when the food was grown in a completely organic manner.
Are All Organic Foods Non-GMO?
It’s important to know the major ways that GMO contamination occurs:
- cross-pollination between crops,
- GMO crops such as alfalfa being used in animal feed
- GMO seeds that end up on an organic farm as a result of wind or birds
- ingredient suppliers that do not sufficiently segregate GMO from non-GMO sources
The Best Way to Ensure Food is Non-GMO
Buying 100% Organic or USDA Organic products isn’t a sure-fire guarantee that your organic foods will be free of GMOs. However, they still remain one of the most easily-identifiable ways to know that the food you are purchasing was grown using organic farming standards.
If you want the greatest assurance when looking for non-GMO food, purchase products that are Non-GMO Project certified. Their certification ensures the highest degree of accuracy that what you are eating is GMO-free food. The Non-GMO Project Verified label shows that the food producer was committed to spending time, money and resources to ensure that their product is tested at critical points throughout the food production process to ensure that GMO contamination does not take place. This includes the ability to trace the origin of all ingredients and ensuring that segregation is enforced at all stages of processing – from ingredient preparation to cooking to packaging. If you want the highest degree of certainty that your food does not contain GMOs, buying products with the Non-GMO Project Verified label is your safest bet.
At Tommy’s Superfoods, we are staunchly opposed to GMOs and will not include any GMO ingredient in our flash-frozen vegetable medleys. All of our product offerings are Non-GMO Project Verified and carry their seal of approval. When you purchase any of our frozen vegetables you can rest assured that not only are you eating the healthiest food, but healthy food that also tastes delicious! Enjoy!